Honda and Google have come together to announce a new association – Honda’s future cars and SUVs will come with the tech giant’s Android Automotive operating system as standard. The first Honda to feature the in-built Google OS – an all-new model – will be launched in the US in the second half of 2022. The partnership isn’t new – Honda and Google started collaborating in 2015, with the Honda Accord becoming the first model to adopt Android Auto in 2016.
It’s important to note there is a significant difference between Android Auto and Android Automotive. The former is a projection of a user’s smartphone onto the vehicle’s base infotainment system (designed and developed by the carmaker). At the same time, the latter is a full-fledged infotainment system, which handles all vital features and functions relating to the vehicle.
There are currently just two vehicles on sale globally that come with Android Automotive – the Volvo XC40 Recharge (set to launch in India early in 2022) and the Polestar 2, both electric vehicles from the Volvo Group. Google is already collaborating with Ford, General Motors, and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance to incorporate Android Automotive into their cars in the future.
Key benefits of Android Automotive include integration of the voice-enabled Google Assistant, which can execute a variety of operations basis inputs from the vehicle occupants, in-built Google Maps navigation, and integration of apps from the Google Play store.
So far, many vehicle manufacturers have avoided close collaborations with big tech, who would be interested in obtaining vital consumer data that could be sourced from vehicle infotainment systems. However, the allure of an actual smartphone-like experience inside the vehicle could help push vehicle sales, which is why Honda is unlikely to be the last carmaker to join hands with Google and integrate Android Automotive into its offerings.
Expect to see Honda’s future models for India, too, to feature the Android Automotive OS. However, the integration may still be some time away, with Honda’s next all-new model for our market – said to be a new midsize SUV – understood to still be in development.